the other three finally emerged from the station, they found St Clair hovering by the open front passenger door. âShall I take the seat by the driver?â he said to Margaret. âI think you will be more comfortable in the back, you know.â
âFine,â said Margaret, climbing in and taking a seat in the middle.
âTake care of the porter, old man, would you?â Caldicott said to Charters, patting his own pockets ineffectually.
âOh, very well!â
âAfter all, youâve had the most use out of him.â Caldicott followed Margaret into the car and closed the door.
The chauffeur banged shut the boot lid on the last of the luggage and went round to open the other passenger door. Charters tipped the porter and, as he climbed into the Jaguar, caught sight of the chauffeurâs face for the first time. It was Helen Appleyardâs accomplice. Caldicott noticed Chartersâ uneasy expression, looked past him and also recognised the chauffeur. The pair exchanged anxious looks across Margaret who, never having seen the man, was quite unperturbed. The chauffeur slammed the passenger door, climbed into the driverâs seat and drove off, his face impassive throughout.
No one spoke as the Jaguar cruised up the long drive and stopped outside Josh Darrellâs country retreat, an impressive pile with enough towers, turrets and battlements to do credit to a fair-sized castle. Two servants emerged and began to unload the luggage, a butler hovered by the main entrance in a supporting role and the chauffeur, inscrutable as ever, opened the door for Charters to get out.
Charters thanked him coldly. âI still donât have your name.â
âWe seem to be seeing a lot of one another, Gregory.â
âDonât we just? I expect weâll be seeing a lot more,â he said, suddenly menacing, and went to help the servants with the cases.
A shot rang out as Caldicott, Margaret and St Clair strolled round the car to join Charters. They started nervously and looked about them. âThe butler did it,â Margaret joked. Then she froze, staring at two large, well-muscled men who appeared round the corner of the house and took up positions, sentry-style, on either side of the path. Their host, carrying a gun and followed by dogs, strode between his bodyguards and came towards them. Margaret, reassured, called, âDonât shoot. Weâre on your side.â
Josh Darrell was American, youngish for his powerful position, and very attractive, a man who carried his responsibilities with an easy confidence. He embraced Margaret and shook hands with St Clair. âGlad you could make it.â St Clair clicked his heels. Margaret began to make introductions but Darrell brushed formalities aside. âAnd youâre Messrs Caldicott and Charters.â
âCharters and Caldicott, weâre usually known as,â said Charters, apologetically.
âLike Morecambe and Wise,â said Margaret.
âItâs just something thatâs become established,â said Charters.
âHowâve you been?â said Darrell.
âQuite well, thank you,â said Caldicott. âWhat do you shoot here?â
âAnything that moves. Come along in. If you like guns, I have a whole museum of them.â
Gregory watched thoughtfully as the party moved into the house.
It was the custom, chez Darrell, to dress for dinner. Caldicott had donned an old-fashioned boiled shirt and red braces and was knotting his bow-tie when Charters came into his room. Charters had taken up the sartorial option of a cummerbund and was having trouble with his own neckwear.
âYou might tie my tie, Caldicott. Iâm a little out of practice.â
âOh, itâs like riding a bicycle. Once learned, never forgotten.â Caldicott took hold of the ends of Chartersâ tie. âNow let me see. Right over left.â